Fair rejects Standish Grangers
June 25, 2013 — Two young ladies and adults from the Standish Grange are the latest casualties in the war between the Grange’s state and national organizations.
The Lassen County Board of Supervisors discussed the Lassen County Fair Board’s decision that two Standish Grange members should compete as independents at the Lassen County Fair Livestock Show at its June 11 meeting.
Representatives from the Standish Grange and Jim Wolcott, the Lassen County Fair manager attended the board’s June 18 meeting to discuss the matter.
Anna Holder, president of the Standish Grange, asked why entries by some adults from the Standish Grange were accepted for the Ag and Floriculture Show, but the livestock entries by the young ladies were not.
Wolcott said his staff made a mistake, and the adult competitors would also have to compete as independents.
Lisa Kuntz, a two-year member of the Susanville Future Farmers of America, and eighth-year member of the Lassen County 4-H program and a Lassen County 4-H All-Star, said there is a stigma attached to showing as an independent and they would not get a fair look from the buyers.
“For our Lassen County
Fair, to enter you must be 4-H or FFA to receive even a glance at your animals, whether or not they are breeding or meat products,” Kuntz said. “If we show as independent, viewers and buyers see us as profiting and supporting ourselves, unlike when you are a member of 4-H, FFA or Grange, where they view us as supporting our nonprofit organization and our community. To show independent you must have your own network of supporters and buyers or a well-known family name. If we can’t show as Grange or even independent Grange, we will not show at all.”
Wolcott said he had the paperwork from the Honey Lake Valley Grange showing that it was an approved organization.
The California Grange’s charter has been suspended pending an order from the court, but the state organization approved the Standish Grange reauthorization despite the suspension.
District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman acknowledged the situation was unfortunate, but he agreed with Wolcott’s determination the Standish Grange members should show as independents because the authority in such fraternal organizations derives from the founding organization.
He said since the matter is now in court, it won’t be resolved until a judge issues a final ruling, leaving the Grange kids “in limbo.”
Wolcott said he didn’t want to get in the middle of the fight between the state and national Grange organizations, but he wanted to protect the kids from any possible liabilities that might arise should someone file a protest about their participation.
“That was my decision,” Wolcott said. “That’s what you guys pay me for. I try to do the best I can. What else do you want me to do? I’m not saying which Grange is right or which Grange is wrong — I’m here for the kids.”
Holder suggested Wolcott and the fair board do not have the authority to make such a decision. She said Lassen County Fair Rule No. 20 reads, “The Lassen County Fair and staff are not responsible for enforcing any club or chapter policies. Any conflicts/violations to these policies must be resolved by club/chapter leaders, advisors, instructors, parents/guardians and the exhibitors directly involved.”
District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle agreed, and said he didn’t think it was the board of supervisors’ job to try and determine if the Standish Grange is a legitimate organization.
District 4 Supervisor Aaron Albaugh said the situation was “very unfortunate” and “the two young ladies are caught in the middle.”
He also said he thought Wolcott was doing the right thing to protect the kids.
At the end of the meeting, after the supervisors voted 4-0 to accept the fair board’s decision (District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson was absent) Holder and Wolcott shook hands.
“We’re both here for the kids,” Holder said. “All we care about is the kids. We don’t want to start a war.”
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